Do motives matter? A comparison between positive and negative incentives in students' willingness to malinger

Irena Boskovic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


The educational system today often relies on incentives in order to motivate students. However, it might also encourage students to engage in deceptive behaviour (e.g. malingering) in order to reach certain benefits. Hereby, we investigated whether students would intentionally fabricate symptoms (i.e. malinger) when confronted with a positive academic benefit (gaining recommendation letter, n = 88), or when given a negative incentive scenario that could be avoided by malingering (n = 88). Groups did not differ in: (i) their motivation to malinger; (ii) symptom choice, nor in (iii) the reporting strategy. Overall, 94% of students would, to a varying degree, malinger. Fever, dizziness/nausea, and indigestion/diarrhoea were the most frequently chosen symptoms and providing elaborative symptoms descriptions was students’ dominant malingering strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1032
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number8
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2020


  • Malingering
  • fabrication
  • incentive
  • physical symptoms
  • reporting strategy
  • ADHD

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